ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ALLIANCE UPDATE

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Ontario's Accessibility Standards Advisory Council Announces Public Consultations on Its Initial Proposal for Revisions to the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard - But Refuses Our Requests to Make This Consultation More Open, Inclusive and Effective

March 14, 2014

Summary

1. Up to April 16, 2014, Give Your Feedback on the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council's Initial Proposal for Revisions to the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard

On Monday, March 3, 2014, the Ontario Government posted for public comment the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council's (ASAC) initial proposal for revisions to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard. The Customer Service Accessibility Standard was enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2007. The AODA requires that it be reviewed no later than five years after it was enacted.

ASAC has invited the public to submit feedback, in writing, no later than April 16, 2014. Once ASAC receives this public feedback, it will review it, and then formulate its final proposals for the Government. The Government will then make ASAC's final proposal public for comment, and will then decide what, if any, revisions it will make to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard.

We need the weak 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard to be substantially strengthened. We encourage you to take part in the ASAC consultation. Below we set out the Government's announcement of this consultation and ASAC's 15-page initial proposal for revisions to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard. For directions on how to give ASAC your input.

When the Customer Service Accessibility Standard was first enacted in 2007, we made public our serious concerns with it. On September 12, 2007, we made public an analysis and critique of the Customer Service Accessibility Standard. You may find that analysis helpful as you formulate your input to ASAC. Below we set out a summary of our 2007 conclusions. You can find the AODA Alliance's full September 12, 2007 analysis of the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard.

In this Update, we do not comment on ASAC's initial proposed revisions. We are now working on the AODA Alliance's detailed submission to ASAC on its proposed revisions to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard. Let us know what you think we should say. What improvements has it produced in the form of accessibility of customer service in the public and private sectors in Ontario over the past seven years? We welcome your ideas for improvements to strengthen that accessibility standard. Email ideas to us at aodafeedback@gmail.com

We will study ASAC's proposed revisions to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard to see how effectively they address our concerns. We will also take into account Ontario's experience with the implementation and enforcement of the Customer Service Accessibility Standard since 2007.

2. We Unsuccessfully Asked for the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council's Consultation to Be More Open, Inclusive and Effective

One day after the Government made public ASAC's initial proposal for revisions to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard for public feedback, we wrote ASAC an email on March 4, 2014 to raise concerns with its consultation process. We made three eminently practical proposals. First, we asked ASAC to extend its consultation period to May 22, 2014 because its consultation period directly overlaps with the public forums and public consultation by the completely-separate Mayo Moran Independent Review of the AODA. Second, we asked ASAC not to limit itself to receiving written feedback. We urged ASAC to also hold some public meetings to get feedback in person on its proposals. We proposed this both because this is always a helpful addition to written submissions, and because some persons with disabilities face barriers impeding their full participation in written submissions. Third, we urged ASAC to ask the Government to far more widely publicize this consultation process.

We believe our requests were quite reasonable. The Government has previously extended similar consultation periods at our request, when we presented a good reason. When developing earlier accessibility standards, the Government arranged for helpful public meetings to gather input. There is no reason why ASAC should do any less.

As for better publicizing ASAC's consultation, we fear that as things now stand, far too few will hear about their consultations. We have seen no Government news release nor any public interviews by the Economic Development, Trade and Employment Minister, Dr. Eric Hoskins. In his 2010 Report of his Independent Review of the AODA, Charles Beer found that there was far too little public awareness of the AODA. We have seen little improvement since then.

Despite this, in a March 13, 2014 email to us, ASAC refused each of our requests. ASAC's reasons are not very compelling. We set out below our March 4, 2014 email to ASAC, and ASAC's March 13, 2014 response.

This is ASAC's first venture in its new, expanded mandate for developing proposals for new and revised accessibility standards. We are eager for ASAC to be successful.

We therefore urge ASAC to reconsider its position. At the same time, we also call on the Ontario Government to implement our three proposals for better ensuring that the ASAC public consultation is open, inclusive and effective. It is not too late. Nothing prevents the Government from taking these steps.

After an inexcusably prolonged period of inaction by the Ontario Government, Ontarians with disabilities now face the unfair burden of formulating and presenting input to two different important consultations at the same time. Making things worse, this could end up overlapping with a possible spring election.

The Government's announcement, set out below, also lists the dates for public hearings around Ontario and on-line to be held by the separate Mayo Moran Independent Review of the AODA's implementation and enforcement. We fear that many may be confused by these two different, yet seemingly overlapping  consultations going on at the same time. For those many individuals and organizations who are not pickled in the details of the AODA, they will wonder why they need to separately [prepare submissions to these two bodies, and may wonder what the difference is between them.

Last year, the Government violated the AODA by delaying the appointment of the AODA Independent Review for over 100 days. It also waited fully six months to appoint the full membership of ASAC. Neither delay was explained publicly, or justified. Had the Government not shirked these important obligations, both of these consultations could have been much further along, or indeed fully completed, without having their consultations overlap with each other.

The text of the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard.

The Government's helpful background information on the Customer Service Accessibility Standard.

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MORE DETAILS

Text of the AODA Alliance's March 4, 2014 Email to the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council

To: James Sanders, Chair,
Accessibility Standards Advisory Council
From: David Lepofsky, Chair,
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance
Date: March 4, 2014
Re: Public Consultation on Initial Proposed Changes to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard

On Monday, March 3, 2014, the Ontario Government sent out an email and posted a web page that announced that the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council is now conducting a public consultation on its initial draft recommendations for proposed changes to the Customer Service Accessibility Standard, enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The announcement indicates that the public can send in feedback up until April 16, 2014. Feedback is to be provided in writing.

We wish to make three requests in order to ensure that your public consultation is open and effective. First, may we suggest that you extend the deadline for input to May 22, 2014. As now scheduled, your consultation period directly overlaps with the time period when Dean Mayo Moran will be holding her Government-appointed public forums as part of the mandatory Independent Review of the AODA's implementation and enforcement. We have a well-founded concern, based on many years of experience, that the disability community and likely, other key stakeholders as well, will be less likely to take full part in both your consultation on the Customer Service Accessibility Standard on the one hand, and Dean Moran's consultation on the overall implementation of the AODA on the other, when both peak consultation periods occur at the same time.

Community organizations and individuals are strapped for time and resources. These consultation opportunities are few and far between. It is very problematic for two such consultations to take place at the same time. We also fear that for many, the current scheduling overlap will only add to the predictable confusion and misunderstanding that many will have about the respective roles of the two different consultation processes.

In our view, the AODA does not preclude ASAC from lengthening this consultation period. It is our view that this is a decision for ASAC, and not the Ministry to make.

Second, we ask that in addition to inviting written input, ASAC should convene public sessions during which individuals and organizations from the disability community, the obligated sectors, and the general public, can give in-person oral input. We recommend this for several reasons.

To only allow written input will create a barrier for those for whom written communication presents difficulties. As well, the Government convened helpful public sessions for getting input when earlier Standards Development Committees had released initial proposals for accessibility standards for public comment. There is no reason why that is any less appropriate now. Third, we found that those earlier public consultations forums provided a good chance for stakeholders to exchange views from differing perspectives at the same time, and thereby, to enrich the entire consultation process. Finally, in his September 14, 2007 letter to the AODA Alliance, Premier McGuinty, speaking for the Government, committed in the 2007 election to "Allowing the standard development committees to have presenters come to their meetings."

Third, we ask you to urge the Ministry to widely publicize your consultation process. It is not enough for the Ministry to send out emails, to post an announcement on its website and to rely on community organizations such as ours to publicize this process.

In closing, it is essential that there be strong public confidence in the process for developing and reviewing accessibility standards under the AODA. This is especially so in light of the troubling lack of public awareness about the requirements now in effect under the AODA and the rampant non-compliance with the Customer Service Accessibility Standard that we demonstrated last fall.

We would be pleased to give you any additional information that you may require to assist in ASAC deciding on these requests.

CC: Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment
Wendy Tilford, Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment
Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister responsible for the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
Dean Mayo Moran, University of Toronto Faculty of Law

Text of the March 13, 2014 Email from the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council to the AODA Alliance

David Lepofsky, Chair,
AODA Alliance

March 13, 2014

This will acknowledge your e-mail of March 4, 2014 which you sent on behalf of the AODA Alliance in regard to the public comment process for the Standards Development Committee's initial proposed changes to the Customer Service Standard.

On behalf of members of the Standards Development Committee, I wish to thank the AODA Alliance for sharing its advice through your presentation to the Council in September, and your recent letter which I have circulated.

The AODA Alliance has requested that the ASAC/SDC extend the deadline for submitting public feedback to May 22, 2014. It is also noted that there is a potential confusion with the concurrent public consultation for the AODA Review, and a resource challenge for community organizations and individuals who may wish to provide feedback on both reviews.

It is the Committee's opinion given the later than anticipated start to the required review of this Standard, that the current schedule should be maintained. While I acknowledge your note about potential confusion with the public consultation for the AODA Review, Members felt rather strongly that they wished to maintain the progress and momentum achieved through a compressed work plan which in turn required concentrated research and review for each of the review areas.

The AODA Alliance has also requested that the ASAC/SDC hold in-person public feedback sessions throughout the public comment period as alternative approaches to individuals who have written communication difficulties and may prefer to provide their feedback in person.

In finalizing the plan for the public comment period, the Committee specifically discussed this issue. The Accessibility Directorate of Ontario (ADO) were requested to develop a communications plan to ensure that people with disabilities were able to be provided accessible formats or communications supports upon request so that they may provide their feedback in a wide range of formats. We have revisited the plan now being executed by the ADO and believe that with the given scope of the proposed changes put forward for public comment, and the potential for delays to the comment period, in-person feedback sessions are not warranted.

Lastly, the AODA Alliance has asked the ASAC/SDC to encourage government to strengthen the breadth of its communications strategy for the public feedback process.

In response to this issue raised in your letter, we have been informed by the ADO that government has launched what appears to us to be a relatively comprehensive communications strategy among a wide array of stakeholders. We have been informed for example that notices of the review have already been sent to over 17,000 contacts in its stakeholder database. Across government, ministries have been asked to reach out to their own external networks to raise awareness of the review and encourage participation. I was encouraged to learn that a high level of support was immediately initiated by all senior government staff.

On a personal note, I wish to thank the Alliance for its ongoing commitment to improving accessibility for all Ontarians, and more specifically for its vociferous advocacy of a strong and effective AODA. I know from past experience that the Alliance bulletins will reach the majority of individuals, groups and organizations who have been involved with the AODA, particularly from a disability perspective. In my view, the Alliance bulletin is among the most effective advocacy tools and avenues for reaching this large and highly relevant group.

Sincerely,

Jim Sanders, Chair,
ASAC/SDC

cc: ASAC/SDC Members
Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment
Wendy Tilford, Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment
Ann Hoy, Assistant Deputy Minister, Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
Dean Mayo Moran, University of Toronto Faculty of Law

Summary of the AODA Alliance's September 12, 2007 Analysis of the Customer Service Accessibility Standard

The Ontario Government recently announced that it enacted the first and only standard under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It governs the provision of customer service.

Our review of it reveals that this accessibility standard is very weak, limited and ineffective. It will not bring Ontario to a position of having fully accessible customer services by the AODA’s legal requirement of January 1, 2025, even if it is fully implemented. This is because:

* It only covers providers of goods and services, not facilities.

* It lacks needed clarity and specificity. It doesn’t include the key requirements of an AODA accessibility standard, because it doesn’t identify the barriers that need to be removed and/or prevented, and doesn’t set out time lines for completing these tasks. It largely delegates to service providers far too much discretion to choose what barriers to remove and prevent, and to choose the time lines for removing and preventing them.

* What little the standard does require a service provider to do is subject to time lines that are too long.

* It weakly requires a service provider to “use reasonable efforts to ensure that its policies, practices and procedures fulfill a series of broad principles.” This doesn’t ensure that the policies and practices that a service provider establishes will be strong and effective. This limited obligation will be potentially difficult to enforce.

* In one area, this standard actually authorizes the creation of a new barrier. The AODA doesn’t allow an accessibility standard to do this.

* It doesn’t require service providers, and particularly larger organizations, to put in place an effective means for accountably delivering accessible customer services.

* In the important area of enforcing human rights, the standard applies to the Human Rights Tribunal and the soon-to-be weakened Ontario Human Rights Commission. However it unjustifiably doesn’t apply to the Ontario Government’s new Human Rights Legal Support Centre, on whom persons with disabilities will have to depend to investigate and enforce their human rights cases.

* Its provision requiring training of a service provider’s staff and volunteers on disability needs is deficient; e.g. it doesn’t say it requires any training on the fundamental requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code, including the duty to accommodate persons with disabilities in customer service.

* Although it is good that the standard requires service providers to have a system in place to get feedback from patrons with disabilities, it doesn’t require persons in position of authority such as senior management to be notified of any of the feedback received, nor does it provide for any accountability whatsoever for action taken on such feedback.

* Its provisions for notifying the public about the availability of accessible services are seriously inadequate, and don’t ensure that that notification will be fully accessible to persons with disabilities.

* The standard permits a barrier-ridden process regarding notification of patrons about service disruptions.

* The final version of this standard is even weaker than the weak one which the McGuinty government’s Customer Service Standards Development Committee proposed as its final recommendation on February 27, 2007.

The Ontario Government's March 3, 2014 Email Announcing the Review of the Customer Service Accessibility Standard and Updating on the Mayo Moran AODA Independent Review

Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment
Accessibility Directorate of Ontario
6th floor, Suite 601a
777 Bay Street
Toronto ON M7A 2J4
accessibility@ontario.ca

March 3, 2014

Two separate reviews of Ontario's accessibility laws are currently underway:

Input to both reviews is welcome. Information is provided below about how to participate. Please note that comments received through one review process will not be considered by the other.
Below you will find updates on both reviews. Participation in both processes is encouraged and appreciated. Please share this information with your colleagues and networks.

Update from the Second Independent AODA Reviewer, Dean Mayo Moran of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law

The second Independent Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is well underway, and I welcome your comments and thoughts regarding Ontario's progress in achieving the accessibility goals set out in the legislation.

I encourage you to visit my website at aodareview.utoronto.ca, where you may submit your confidential comments regarding the legislation, or register to attend one of the following public consultation sessions:

In-Person Consultations:

Ottawa - March 18, 2014
Toronto - March 21, 2014 and April 29, 2014
London - April 9, 2014
Thunder Bay - April 15, 2014.

On-line and Call in Consultations:

April 3, 2014
April 22, 2014.

Exact locations and times of consultations are available on my website, and registration for all consultation sessions via the website is required. Those attending the public consultations are not required to make written submissions, although those wishing to speak to a written submission at a public consultation must upload the submission to my website seven days prior to the date of the consultation.

Below you will find updates on both reviews. Participation in both processes is encouraged and appreciated. Please share this information with your colleagues and networks.

Dean Mayo Moran

Update from the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council/Standards Development Committee

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires the review of each accessibility standard five years after it becomes law to determine whether the standard is working as intended and to allow for adjustments to be made as required.

In 2013, the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council/Standard Development Committee (ASAC/SDC) began the review of the Accessible Customer Service Standard, the first accessibility standard to be made into regulation under the AODA.

Based on its review, the Standards Development Committee has developed its initial proposed changes to the Customer Service Standard and is now seeking public comments prior to finalizing its recommendations to government.

Public feedback will be accepted from March 3, 2014 to April 16, 2014. Please visit www.ontario.ca/AccessON  starting March 3 for information on the committee's initial proposed changes, and how to provide your feedback.

The ASAC/SDC would greatly appreciate your participation in the public feedback process and thanks you in advance for contributing towards improving accessibility in the province of Ontario.

Text of the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council's March 3, 2014 Initial Proposal for Revisions to the 2007 Customer Service Accessibility Standard

Proposed Revised Customer Service Standard

Introduction
The purpose of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) is to achieve an accessible Ontario by 2025 through the development, implementation and enforcement of accessibility standards that apply to the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Under the AODA, the government of Ontario has developed accessibility standards to identify, remove and prevent barriers in key areas of daily living: customer service; employment; information and communications; transportation; and the design of public spaces. All organizations with one or more employees in Ontario are required by law to comply with the AODA and its accessibility standards.
On January 1, 2008, the Customer Service Standard became the first accessibility standard to be made into regulation under the AODA. The Standard sets out requirements to achieve accessible customer service. Accessible customer service is about understanding that customers with disabilities may have different needs and finding the best way to help them access goods and services.
The Customer Service Standard applies to all organizations (public, private and not-for-profit) that provide goods or services either directly to the public or to other organizations and that have one or more employees in Ontario. Requirements for organizations pertain to topics such as accessible customer service policies, practices and procedures; service animals; support persons; customer feedback; and staff training.
Public sector organizations were required to comply with the Customer Service Standard as of January 1, 2010. Private and not-for-profit sector organizations were required to comply with the Standard as of January 1, 2012.
The AODA requires the review of each accessibility standard five years after it becomes law to determine whether the standard is working as intended and to allow for adjustments to be made as required.
In September 2013, the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council/Standard Development Committee (ASAC/SDC), in its role as the SDC, began its review of the Customer Service Standard at the direction of the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment. The ASAC/SDC is a committee that includes leaders from the disability community and from organizations that must comply with accessibility standards.
The ASAC/SDC has reviewed the current Customer Service Standard including its long-term objectives and all requirements that organizations must follow. Based on this review, the ASAC/SDC is proposing amendments related to the following components of the Customer Service Standard:

The following is the proposed revised Customer Service Standard organized by major heading. Where the ASAC/SDC is proposing changes to a section of the current Standard, an explanation of the proposed change is provided.
For full text of the current Customer Service Standard, please see the Accessibility Standards for Customer Service regulation (Ontario Regulation 429/07).
NOTE - If there is a conflict between this document that describes the Customer Service Standard regulation and the Customer Service Standard regulation itself, the Customer Service Standard regulation prevails.

Purpose and Application
The Customer Service Standard establishes requirements for the provision of accessible customer service which apply to every designated public sector organization and to every other person or organization that provides goods or services to members of the public or other third parties and that has at least one employee in Ontario.
The Customer Service Standard provides the following definitions:

Proposed Change:
It is proposed that the following definitions in the Customer Service Standard be matched with the definitions in the other accessibility standards, as follows:

In addition, it is proposed that a general provision be added regarding the application of “reasonability” / “practicability” in the context of meeting requirements of the Standard.

Explanation:
The proposed change regarding the definitions would see the three class structures under the Customer Service Standard (i.e., who the standard applies to) replaced by the seven class structures under the other accessibility standards:

This means removing the definitions of “designated public sector organization” and “provider of goods and services” of the Customer Service Standard and replacing them with the definitions under the other accessibility standards.
As a result, in this section and everywhere else in the document, references to a “provider” of goods and services have been replaced with “obligated organization” to match the other accessibility standards.
The proposed change to add a general provision referencing reasonability/practicability is intended to clarify to obligated organizations and people with disabilities that both parties need to work together to take into account an individual’s needs, and the organization’s capacity to meet those needs.

Class Structure
The Customer Service Standard establishes different requirements for private and not-for-profit organizations (i.e. other providers of goods and services) based on number of employees:

Proposed Change
It is proposed that the class structure under the Customer Service Standard be changed to match that of the other accessibility standards, as follows:

Requirements under the Customer Service Standard that applied to organizations with 20 or more employees would now apply to organizations with 50 or more employees.
Proposed changes regarding class structure would be reflected in the requirements for private and not-for profit organizations under the following sections of the Customer Service Standard:

Explanation
This proposed change would match the class structure of the Customer Service Standard with the class structure of the other four accessibility standards (employment; information and communications; transportation; and the design of public spaces). The proposed change will result in a consistent definition of private and not-for-profit organizations, simplify requirements, and reduce inconsistencies across all accessibility standards.
For example, with this proposed change, organizations with 20-49 employees would continue to be required to establish policies, practices and procedures governing the provision of goods or services to people with disabilities (as required under Section 3 of the Customer Service Standard). However, these organizations would no longer be required to prepare one or more documents describing their policies, practices and procedures or to provide these documents upon request (as currently required under Section 3.5).

Effective Dates
The Customer Service Standard applies to designated public sector organizations as of January 1, 2010 and to other providers of goods or services as of January 1, 2012.

Proposed Change
Proposed changes to the definition of “provider of goods and services” in the Purpose and Application Section above would apply to this section. Click here for a link back to the Purpose and Application Section.
No additional changes are proposed to the effective dates section of the Customer Service Standard.

Establishment of Policies, Practices and Procedures
Every provider of goods or services is required to establish policies, practices and procedures governing the provision of its goods or services to people with disabilities.
The provider must make reasonable efforts to ensure that its policies, practices and procedures are consistent with the following principles:

The policies must deal with the use of assistive devices by people with disabilities to obtain, use or benefit from the provider’s goods or services or the availability, if any, of other measures which enable them to do so.
When communicating with a person with a disability, a provider must do so in a manner that takes into account the person’s disability.
Every designated public sector organization and every other provider of goods or services that has at least 20 employees in Ontario must prepare one or more documents describing its policies, practices and procedures and, upon request, shall give a copy of a document to any person.

Proposed Change
Proposed changes to the definition of “provider of goods and services” in the Purpose and Application Section above would apply to this section. Click here for a quick link back to the Purpose and Application Section.

Proposed changes to class structure in the Class Structure Section above would apply to this section. Click here for a quick link back to the Class Structure Section.
It is proposed that references to “policies, practices and procedures” throughout the Customer Service Standard to be changed to match the term “policies” in the other accessibility standards.
Proposed changes would be reflected in the following sections of the Customer Service Standard:

Explanation
The proposed change would align language and terminology across all accessibility standards, reduce inconsistencies, and simplify requirements.

Service Animals
This provision applies if goods or services are provided to members of the public or other third parties at premises owned or operated by the provider of the goods or services and if the public or third parties have access to the premises.

If a person with a disability is accompanied by a guide dog or other service animal, the provider of goods or services must ensure that the person is permitted to enter the premises with the animal and be permitted to keep the animal with him or her unless the animal is otherwise excluded by law from the premises.

If a service animal is excluded by law from the premises, the provider of goods or services must ensure that other measures are available to enable the person with a disability to obtain, use or benefit from the provider’s goods or services.

Every designated public sector organization and every other provider of goods or services that has at least 20 employees in Ontario must prepare one or more documents describing its policies, practices and procedures with respect to service animals and, upon request, shall give a copy of a document to any person. Under this provision, a “guide dog” means a guide dog as defined in section 1 of the Blind People Rights’ Act.

Under this provision, an animal is considered a service animal if:

Proposed Change
Proposed changes to the definition of “provider of goods and services” in the Purpose and Application Section above would apply to this section. Click here for a link back to the Purpose and Application Section.
Proposed changes to class structure in the Class Structure Section above would apply to this section. Click here for a link back to the Class Structure Section.
Proposed changes to “policies, practices and procedures” in the Policies, Practices and Procedures Section above would apply to this section. Click here for a link back to the Policies, Practices and Procedures Section.
It is proposed that the definition of service animal to be changed. An animal would be defined as a service animal if:

Explanation
The addition of the training provision clarifies that a service animal is not a pet and is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability that is specific to that individual's disability.

The term “readily identifiable” is proposed to replace “readily apparent” to make it more clear to organizations that a service animal may be recognized through indicators or visual cues such as a vest or harness, without staff having to ask for a letter from a health professional.

Expanding the range of people who can provide a letter confirming a person’s requirement for a service animal to “regulated health professionals” from the more specific “physician or nurse” was seen by the committee as more inclusive of the range of health care professionals that may be used by people with different types of disabilities.

Support Persons
This provision applies if goods or services are provided to members of the public or other third parties at premises owned or operated by the provider of the goods or services and if the public or third parties have access to the premises.

If a person with a disability is accompanied by a support person, the provider of goods or services must ensure that both are permitted to enter the premises together and that the person with a disability is not prevented from having access to the support person while on the premises.
The provider of goods or services may require a person with a disability to be accompanied by a support person when on the premises, but only if a support person is necessary to protect the health or safety of the person with a disability or the health or safety of others on the premises.
If an amount is charged for admission to the premises or in connection to a person’s presence on the premises, the provider of goods or services must ensure that notice is given in advance about the amount, if any, payable in respect of the support person.

Every designated public sector organization and every other provider of goods or services that has at least 20 employees in Ontario must prepare one or more documents describing its policies, practices and procedures with respect to support persons and, upon request, must give a copy of a document to any person.

Under this provision, “support person” means, in relation to a person with a disability, another person who accompanies him or her in order to help with communication, mobility, personal care or medical needs or with access to goods or services.

Proposed Change
Proposed changes to the definition of “provider of goods and services” in the Purpose and Application Section above would apply to this section. Click here for a link back to the Purpose and Application Section.

Proposed changes to class structure in the Class Structure Section above would apply to this section. Click here for a link back to the Class Structure Section.  
Proposed changes to “policies, practices and procedures” in the Policies, Practices and Procedures Section above would apply to this section. Click here for a link back to the Policies, Practices and Procedures Section.

Additional language is proposed to clarify when an organization may require a support person to accompany a person with a disability for reasons of health and safety as follows:

Explanation
The additional requirements clarify for organizations that there are limited circumstances whereby an organization could require that a person with a disability be accompanied by a support person and that certain conditions should be met including:

Notice of Temporary Disruptions
If, in order to obtain, use or benefit from a provider’s goods or services, people with disabilities usually use particular facilities or services of the provider and if there is a temporary disruption in those facilities or services in whole or in part, the provider is required give notice of the disruption to the public.

Notice of the disruption must include information about the reason for the disruption, its anticipated duration and a description of alternative facilities or services, if any, that are available.
Notice may be given by posting the information at a conspicuous place on premises owned or operated by the provider of goods or services, by posting it on the provider’s website, if any, or by such other method as is reasonable in the circumstances.

Every designated public sector organization and every other provider of goods or services that has at least 20 employees in Ontario must prepare a document that sets out the steps to be taken in connection with a temporary disruption and, upon request, must give a copy of the document to any person.

Proposed Change
Proposed changes to the definition of “provider of goods and services” in the Purpose and Application Section above would apply to this section.  Click here for a link back to the Purpose and Application Section.

Proposed changes to class structure in the Class Structure Section above would apply to this section. Click here for a link back to the Class Structure Section.

No additional changes to the current notice of temporary disruption section of the Customer Service Standard are proposed.

Training for Staff
Every provider of goods or services is required to ensure that the following people receive training about the provision of its goods or services to people with disabilities:

Every person who deals with members of the public or other third parties on behalf of the provider, whether they do so as an employee, agent, volunteer or otherwise.

Every person who participates in developing the provider’s policies, practices and procedures about providing goods or services to members of the public or other third parties.

The training must include a review of the purposes of the AODA and the requirements of the Customer Service Standard and instruction about the following matters:

The training must be provided to each person as soon as practicable after he or she is assigned the applicable duties.

Training must also be provided on an ongoing basis in connection with changes to the policies, practices and procedures governing the provision of goods or services to people with disabilities.
Every designated public sector organization and every other provider of goods or services that has at least 20 employees in Ontario must prepare a document describing its training policy, and the document must include a summary of the contents of the training and details of when the training is to be provided.

Every designated public sector organization and every other provider of goods or services that has at least 20 employees in Ontario is required to keep records of the training provided under this provision of the Customer Service Standard, including the dates on which the training is provided and the number of individuals to whom it is provided.

Proposed Change
Proposed changes to the definition of “provider of goods and services” in the Purpose and Application Section above would apply to this section. Click here for a link back to the Purpose and Application Section.

Proposed changes to class structure in the Class Structure Section above would apply to this section. Click here for a link back to the Class Structure Section.

Proposed changes to “policies, practices and procedures” in the Policies, Practices and Procedures Section above would apply to this section. Click here for a link back to the Policies, Practices and Procedures Section.

It is proposed that the requirements on who must be trained and when training must be provided be replaced with the following language:

Explanation
These proposed changes would match the broader language in the other accessibility standards, simplify requirements, and reduce inconsistencies across all accessibility standards.

Feedback Process for Providers of Goods or Services
Every provider of goods or services must establish a process for receiving and responding to feedback about how it provides goods or services to people with disabilities and must make information about this feedback process readily available to the public.

The feedback process must permit people to provide their feedback in person, by telephone, in writing, or by delivering an electronic text by email or on diskette or otherwise.
The feedback process must specify the actions that the provider of goods or services is required to take if a complaint is received.

Every designated public sector organization and every other provider of goods or services that has at least 20 employees in Ontario must prepare a document describing its feedback process and, upon request, must give a copy of the document to any person.

Proposed Change
Proposed changes to the definition of “provider of goods and services” in the Purpose and Application Section above would apply to this section. Click here for a link back to the Purpose and Application Section.

Proposed changes to class structure in the Class Structure Section above would apply to this section. Click here for a link back to the Class Structure Section.

It is proposed that the title of the section be changed to “Feedback Process on the Accessibility to Provision of Goods or Services.”

It is also proposed that the language on the channels and formats of an organization’s feedback process under the Customer Service Standard be matched with the language in the Information and Communications Standard which specifies that:

It is further proposed that language be added to the feedback section that is similar to the language in the policies, practices and procedures section of the Customer Service Standard which states that when communicating with a person with a disability, a provider shall do so in a manner that takes into account the person’s disability.

Explanation
The proposed new title of the section is intended to clarify that the requirements relate to receiving feedback on the accessibility of “access to” goods and services rather than the accessibility of the goods and services themselves.

Changing how feedback is accepted to require organizations to provide accessible formats and communication supports (rather than accepting feedback through certain communication channels such as in person, by telephone, in writing, on diskette) matches similar requirements under the Information and Communications Standard.

The proposed change may enhance accessibility for people with disabilities since they can request the accessible format or communication support that works best for them and their needs when providing feedback rather than choosing from the possible methods for providing feedback that are determined by the organization (e.g. by telephone or in writing).

Reiterating the requirement for organizations to communicate with a person in a manner that takes into account their disability in the feedback provision similar to the requirement in the policies, practices and procedures section of the Customer Service Standard reinforces the importance of this principle.

Notice of Availability and Format of Documents
Every designated public sector organization and every other provider of goods or services that has at least 20 employees in Ontario must notify people to whom it provides goods or services that the documents required by the Customer Service Standard are available upon request (e.g. accessible customer service policies).

The notice may be given by posting the information at a conspicuous place on premises owned or operated by the provider, by posting it on the provider’s website, if any, or by such other method as is reasonable in the circumstances.

If a provider of goods or services is required by the Customer Service Standard to give a copy of a document to a person with a disability, the provider is required to give the person the document, or the information contained in the document, in a format that takes into account the person’s disability.

The provider of goods or services and the person with a disability may agree upon the format to be used for the document or information.

Proposed Change

Proposed changes to the definition of “provider of goods and services” in the Purpose and Application Section above would apply to this section. Click here for a link to the Purpose and Application Section.

Proposed changes to class structure in the Class Structure Section above would apply to this section. Click here for a link to the Class Structure Section.
It is proposed that the scope of this requirement be expanded beyond documents required under the Customer Service Standard to include any information and communication that an organization provides to the public.

It is proposed that an organization provide accessible formats and communication supports upon request to a person with a disability. These must be provided in a timely manner and at a cost that is no more than the regular cost charged.

It is further recommended that the current provision that organizations and people with disabilities “agree upon” an accessible format be replaced with the following requirement:

Explanation
The proposed change would align language and terminology with the Information and Communications Standard, reduce inconsistencies, and simplify requirements.